Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Teach your child Spanish the Boca Beth way!

It started on our family jaunt to Mexico -- our son's interest in the Spanish language. And ever since, he takes great delight in asking a daily barrage of questions like, "What's 'dog' in Spanish?" or "How do I say, 'booty-butt tormado' in Spanish?"

So when the opportunity to review the Boca Beth program arose, I jumped at the chance.

To give you some background: The Boca Beth program uses puppets (like the one shown in this photo), music and movement to teach Spanish to kids of varying ages. The founder, Beth Butler, has spent more than 10 years in preschool and elementary school classrooms and has even lived in Mexico. She's produced two bilingual educational movies and speaks nationally with parents and educators on how to make learning a second language fun. So yes, she does know what she's talking about.

I decided the best way for Seth to start off the program was to act as if he "owned" it. When the package came, I told him it was a surprise for him. After opening and explaining the contents, he begged to watch the video. We watched it together, ate popcorn and snuggled. When it was finished, he begged to watch it again. (We bypassed the second part of the DVD -- the interactive class the first time.) We were off to a fabulous start!

What I thought:

The videos are cheerful and enthusiastic. Butler's passion for the project is very apparent. She does make it easy for children (and even numbskull adults like me!) to quickly pick up various Spanish phrases. And I like how she mixes Spanish phrases into popular children's songs. In fact, I was astonished -- Seth started singing the Spanish words to "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" after watching the video just three times.

Children play an active part throughout the video. They sing, they dance, they have fun. And they speak Spanish too! For my son, seeing the bigger kids speaking Spanish was a big sell.

The puppet, shaker, and bilingual coloring book that came in the package are terrific additions. In fact, Seth has proudly shown off the shaker and puppet to his best friend, cousins and grandparents when they've visited. And being that he loves books, we often go through the coloring book at night before bed.

What "the boy" thought:

At five, Seth is a self-proclaimed "big kid". He realized during the second viewing that alot of the kids in the video are younger than he is -- in his words, "babies." He was put off. And when he saw the interactive spot? He complained about the children being babies. The video I received is targeted to toddler-aged kiddos. I think he would have been much more interested if there would have been more kids ages six to nine.When he heard the first few songs on the Boca Beth CD, he promptly labeled them "baby songs". So he fussed up a storm until I stopped the CD. But I do plan to keep reintroduce the CD again soon.

Frankly, he would have also been more interested if Boca Beth came out with a 'How to Speak Spanish Potty Talk' edition. But its a good thing she hasn't because I really don't want to hear him say, "poopy-diaper bed head butt" in Spanish 100 times a day. Its bad enough hearing it so often in English. (But that's a post for another day.)

I don't think the younger children's appearance in the video is a shortcoming. But I do wish the video and CD would have been available a few years ago. I KNOW that if I would have introduced the program to Seth when he was 18-24 months, he would have LOVED it as much as his Baby Einstein vids.

While watching the video, don't expect the editing, shooting and graphics to be as "slick" as the Disney's Baby Einstein movies. They aren't. But that's OK. I don't think little ones will notice. Plus? Boca Beth has got to start somewhere. And I think she's on to something big.


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